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Crane OperatorAlternative titles

Kaiwhakamahi Wakaranga

This job is sometimes referred to as:

Container Crane Operator
Mobile Crane Operator

Crane operators use cranes to lift and move objects, such as building materials on construction sites, shipping containers on wharves or heavy parts for the manufacturing industry. There are many diffferent types and sizes of cranes.

Contact us

Call us on 0800 222 733

What are the chances of getting a job?


Opportunities for crane operators are average for inexperienced crane operators and good for those with experience.

Construction activity increasing

Crane operators are employed across a range of industries, but the single biggest source of employment is the building and construction industry, particularly the commercial (non-residential) building sector. 

The building and construction industry is steadily improving and with it demand for crane operators. Much of this work is in Auckland and Christchurch, although the amount of work being undertaken is increasing in most regions.

While demand for people with experience is good, people with no or little experience will likely find it harder to find work.

Opportunities average outside of the building and construction industry

Opportunities for crane operators in most industries other than building and construction are average. Crane operators in industries such as shipping and manufacturing tend to stay in the role for a long time, so turnover among workers is low. However, many crane operators are reaching retirement age, which is creating some openings. 

Crane operator employers mostly involved with construction

Most crane operators work in the building and construction industry. However, some are also employed in:

  • manufacturing
  • engineering
  • machinery equipment hire and leasing
  • forestry
  • water transport (operating dockyard cranes).


  • Auton, R, chief executive, Crane Association of New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, April 2014.
  • Department of Building and Housing, New Zealand Housing and Construction Quarterly, December 2013, accessed March 2014, (www.dbh.govt.nz).
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Canterbury Skills Shortage List', accessed April 2014.
  • McClintock, J, operations manager, Certified Builders Association, Careers New Zealand interview, February 2014.
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ‘2003-2012 Occupation Data’ (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2014.
  • Statistics New Zealand, 'Building Consents Issued February 2014', accessed April 2014, (www.stats.govt.nz).
  • Steeman, M, Wood, A, Stuff website, 'Christchurch rebuild set to accellerate', January 2013.

Current vacancies

Mobile Crane Operator Listed: 21 Jan 2015 Canterbury
Crane Driver Listed: 21 Jan 2015 Wellington
REGISTERED ELECTRICIAN.... Need A Change!! Listed: 12 Jan 2015 Auckland
Various Trades Listed: 23 Jan 2015 Bay Of Plenty
Driver / Yardman Listed: 20 Jan 2015 Auckland
Various Trades Listed: 20 Jan 2015 Canterbury
Hiab operator Listed: 07 Jan 2015 Canterbury

Other vacancy websites

Progression and specialisations

People usually start out in craning as dogmen, securing loads and advising the crane driver from the ground. They may then move on to operating mobile cranes and tower cranes. Crane operators may progress to supervisory and managerial roles.

There are many different kinds of cranes, each requiring specific skills. Crane types include:

  • mobile cranes
  • crawler cranes
  • tower cranes
  • truck-mounted cranes
  • travelling gantry cranes
  • overhead cranes
  • container and harbour cranes.

Crane operators might also be involved with crane site supervision, and rigging and slinging (securing) of loads.

How many people are doing this job?

Year 2012
Year 2011
Year 2010
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.

A crane lifting a shipping container

Crane operators usually specialise in operating a particular class of crane

Construction site workers standing on scaffolding with a crane behind them

The Christchurch rebuild should see increased demand for crane operators

Updated 20 May 2014